marineland canister filter review

at 6:32 pm

Marineland Multistage Canister Filters (C-Series)

The Marineland C-Series filters, primarily the C-360, provide perhaps the best “bang for buck” of any canister filter in the hobby. While priced in the mid-range of canister filters, its features are more comparable to the very high end Eheim filters.

While researching reviews of this filter on the Internet, you will come across numerous reports of leaks. This was the result of a manufacturer’s defect that occurred during several production runs. This problem has since been resolved. Once discovered, Marineland issued a recall of all affected filters, replacing both the Motorhead and valve blocks. My C-360 was one of these. Even though my filter was out of warranty, Marineland replaced my valve block and motorhead, free of charge. I have had no issues since. If purchasing a new filter, the leak concerns with this filter are no greater than with any other canister filter. I am perfectly comfortable both using and recommending the C-Series filters. In summary on this issue, it is a part of the past and not a valid concern on currently manufactured filters.

Amongst all canister filters, the C-360 may be my favorite filter. With a media capacity of 3.4 gallons, it dwarfs all other filters in its class. You would have to step up the high end ($300+) Eheim filters to find something comparable. Some people want to compare the C-360 with an Eheim 2217. This is an invalid comparison. The C-220 better compares to the Eheim 2217 while the C-360 better compares to the Eheim 2250 or Eheim 2260. I would be perfectly comfortable with a C-360 running solo on a 100 gallon Oscar tank while I would not be comfortable with an Eheim 2217 running solo on the same tank.

ModelAquarium Size (up to)DimensionsMedia BasketsMax gphFilter FoamCarbon Bags
C-16030 gallons8.88" x 11.75" x 13" h316042
C-22055 gallons8.88" x 11.75" x 14.75" h422042
C-360100 gallons10.75" x 13.38" x 17.25" h436043
C-530150 gallons18.25" x 13.5" x 21.5" h453044

Pros:

  • Massive filter volume. At 3.4 gallons of media capacity, it dwarfs all other filters with a comparable price.
  • At 360 gph, the flow rate is respectable.
  • No bypass design is a reality, not marketing hype. No bypass is achieved by interlocking trays, with each tray sealed to the tray below it with a rubber gasket.
  • Four tray design provides substantial flexibility in media selections… and it allows A LOT of media to be used.
  • Quick Disconnect valve block allows for easy, mess free, removal from the tank for maintenance.
  • Solid construction
  • Solid, heavy hoses that will last a lifetime.
  • Marineland Customer Service is the best in the industry, or any industry for that matter.
  • Spare components are readily available via numerous online resources, or they are a phone call away (Marineland Customer Service).

Cons:

  • I have had an impeller break on my C-220. No problems with the impeller on the C-360. So I would recommend ordering a spare impeller and having it available. $15 is not too much to spend on such an insurance policy.
  • This filter is relatively new (at least when compared to some of the Eheims), so reliability and longevity are an unknown and were impacted by the leak issue discussed prior. However, as mentioned, I have no problems purchasing and/or recommending this filter to others. I have been using this filter for about 5 years.
  • The stock media the filter ships with, while sufficient, can be improved upon. The course sponges are great, but the biomedia (plastic bio balls and smooth ceramic rings) are inferior to other biomedias that are available.
  • Care must be taken during maintenance when removing and replacing the trays as the rubber gaskets that seal the interlocking trays are easily misplaced or potentially torn. It’s just something to be aware of. I’ve had no issues with either my C-220 or C-360 as I am aware of it.
  • Care must be taken when initially installing the filter to get the hoses cut to the right length to prevent the hoses from pushing or pulling on the valve block. These are thick heavy hoses. If they are allowed to pull on the valve block, you can introduce a leak risk. I solve this concern by using zip ties to secure the hoses to the tank frame, then adjusting the hose so that it places no pressure on the valve block.
  • This filter is a large filter, it will not fit under some tank cabinets, so make sure you have the room.
  • This filter is a large filter, it is heavy when filled with water.

 

Other information:

  • Do not over-stack these filters with media. If the latches are difficult to close (when placing the motorhead back onto the filter) then you have over stacked  the media.
  • Do not refill the filter with water before hooking it back up to the tank (following maintenance). Allow the self priming function to fill the filter.
  • As mentioned, the stock biomedia can be improved upon. While I love the included sponges, that is all I use (of the media that ships with the filter). The ceramic rings are more like Eheim Ehfimech than biomedia, and they can be moved to the first tray to serve this same function, with the sponges moved to the second tray. However, my recommended tray layout (from bottom to top) is below:
  • > Bottom Tray: Stock Sponges
  • > Second Tray: Eheim Ehfilav
  • > Third Tray: SeaChem Matrix, Eheim Ehfisubstrate Pro, or quality biomax type ring
  • > Fourth Tray: SeaChem Matrix, Eheim Ehfisubstrate Pro, or quality biomax type ring

Marineland Magnum 350

Next to the Eheim Classic filters, these are the “grand daddy” of Aquarium canister filters as they’ve been in manufacture, virtually unchanged, for decades. Like the Eheim classics, their beauty is in the simplicity of the design. I personally have a Magnum 350 that has been in constant use for approaching 20 years (with no parts replacement). I have another Magnum 350, purchased a few years back, that is identical to the one purchased 20 years ago.

Unlike the Eheim Classics, these filters are rarely recommended due to their size (lack of media volume), although with the proper modifications and use of the biowheels (in the Pro models) they make excellent, reliable to an extreme, filters.

For mechanical filters, if using the Micron cartridge, they can’t be beat. So if nothing else, they make great water polishing filters.

Personally, I use mine as secondary filters, modified more for biofiltration, although historically I have used them as standalone (solo) filtration on tanks up to 55 gallons.

Pros:

  • Made in the USA
  • One of the most dependable filters on the market. There are examples of this filter being in constant use for over 20 years
  • Very easy to work with, no mess maintenance, easy to move around
  • When using the Pro model, Biowheels provide great, non-clogging biofiltration
  • When using the Micron Cartridge, mechanical filtration can’t be beat
  • Compact size can fit almost anywhere
  • Filter has an On-Off switch, a concept that more filters should adopt
  • At 350gph, flow rate is respectable
  • Design of the filter ensures no water bypasses the media cartridge
  • Marineland Customer Support
  • Is a low cost, easy to use alternative for 55 gallon or smaller tanks. A great secondary filter for larger tanks.
  • Bottom mounted impeller is a design concept other manufactures should investigate
  • This filter has been around forever, spare parts are readily available

Cons:

  • Filter is designed primarily for mechanical or chemical filtration, with the biowheels providing biofiltration. However, with this design, only a percentage of the water passes over the biowheel, which limits its effectiveness as a biofilter. You have to think a bit outside the box if wanting to use this as a biofilter. The recommended (and simple) modifications can be found here.
  • There is only a single container for media, with this container designed primarily for activated carbon. I fill this container with Eheim Ehfilav or Eheim Substrate Pro for increased biofiltration. However, the amount of media that can be employed is limited when compared to other filters.
  • Installation, especially with the Pro version, is a bit more complicated that with other canister filters.
  • The filter ships with “rubber band” like clamps designed to provide a tighter seal on the hose splice connections necessary in the installation of the filter. It is the intent of these “rubber band like” clamps to prevent leaks. They don’t. So use of standard hose clamps (which must be purchased seperately) are recommended.
  • The quick disconnects, while functional, leave something to be desired.

Modifications

The Marineland Magnum 350 does not have a good reputation with many aquarists. Not because it is a poorly manufactured filter, it is a well made product (I have one that has been in constant use for 20 years), but because it is not flexible. Since the Magnum 350 is designed primarily for Carbon filtration, without a Bio-Wheel attachment there is no mechanism for bio-filtration.

This easily resolved by simple modifications.

First, get a reverse flow kit for a Penguin powerhead and attach the strainer/foam pre-filter from the kit to the inflow tube of the Magnum.

Next, take the media container and toss the carbon. Fill the media container with a biomeida. My preference would be Eheim Ehflilav because its size is perfect for the Magnum media container and it retains its biofiltration properties even when there is a shortage of mechanical filtration. Since whatever media is in this cartridge will become gunked, Ehfilav is a perfect option. However, I have used everything from Biomax rings, to Matrix, to Eheim Ehfisubstrate Pro.

The powerhead strainer and sponge serves as mechanical filtration preventing the bio-media in the container from getting clogged. In addition, it greatly reduces maintenance requirements as it performs a majority of the mechanical filtration and is easily cleaned during water changes.

With the prefilter in use you have the equivalent of two trays of mechanical filtration (the powerhead sponge prefilter and the filter pad surrounding the media container). Include the media container and you now have the equivalent to a three-tray canister.

Finally, it is best is to add a Penguin Bio-Wheel Pro 30 or 60. Nothing beats a bio-wheel for bio-filtration. Adding the Bio-wheel, in the suggested design, may actually result in the Magnum outperforming many more costly filters. Adding a Bio-Wheel 30 results in the equivalent of a 4 tray canister, and the Bio-wheel 60 a 5 tray canister.

By doing these simple things you have turned the Magnum into a very effective filter.

Links to the components I mentioned to improve the Magnum are listed below:

  • Ehfilav – You can get about 1 box into the media container
  • BioMax – You can get about 1 box into the media container:
  • Ehfisubstrat Pro – Smaller than BioMax so should work better in the Magnum Media container
  • Prefilter Sponge

Marineland HOT 250 Review

This is the little brother to the Magnum 350 with the added convenience of being a “hang on tank” filter. Although this filter appears to be somewhat of a “tweener”, make no mistake, the physical dynamics of this little guy are those of a canister filter, which makes it more efficient than an HOB filter. I own two of these, using the same type of modifications I use for the Magnum 350s. One of these two has been in constant use since the early 90s.

This filter is comparatively priced with an AquaClear 110 (AC110). If selecting a secondary filter, I would likely choose this over an AC110 because it is a much more efficient filter, silent, and has the added flexibility of becoming a Micron filter whenever that extra water polishing is desired.

I have used this as solo filtration on a 40 gallon discus tank. If looking for a canister filter for a smaller tank, and you want the ease of use of an HOB filter or do not want the leak concerns of a standard canister filter, this filter is worthy of a look.

Pros:

  • Made in the USA.
  • A very dependable filter. As mentioned, mine has been in use since the early 90s.
  • Very easy to work with, no mess maintenance, easy to move around
  • Because it is so easy to move from tank to tank, it can be used for extra water polishing (using the micron cartridge) on multiple tanks.
  • The filtration dynamics of a canister filter with the convenience of hang on the tank.
  • Easy to set up, use, and maintain.
  • With appropriate modifications, along with the biowheel, is an excellent biological filter, either as a primary filter on smaller tanks or secondary filter on larger tanks.
  • With the Micron filter, is an excellent mechanical filter
  • No bypass design, same as a Magnum 350
  • Has a power button. Why more filters do not have on/off switches is a mystery to me. Makes perfect sense.

Cons:

  • Filter is designed primarily for mechanical or chemical filtration, with the biowheel providing biofiltration. However, with this design, only a percentage of the water passes over the biowheel, which limits its effectiveness as a biofilter. You have to think a bit outside the box if wanting to use this as a biofilter. The recommended (and simple) modifications can be found here.
  • There is only a single container for media, with this container designed primarily for activated carbon. I fill this container with Eheim Ehfilav or Eheim Substrate Pro for increased biofiltration. However, the amount of media that can be employed is limited when compared to other canister filters, but it holds more media than a standard HOB filters.
  • The “D-Ring” should be lubricrated with a quality silicone lubricant during maintenance.

Recommended Maintenance Procedure

  1. Fill a bucket with tank water and turn off the filter
  2. Remove the biowheels from their housing and shake them out into the bucket of water, then place them back into their housing
  3. Engage shutoffs on both the outflow and inflow tubes/ valve block
  4. Disconnect the quick disconnects, lift the filter off the motorhead, and carry the canister to a sink.
  5. Open the disconnect vaves to release pressure inside the filter (otherwise you’ll stuggle to get the lid off).
  6. Unhook and remove the filter lid.
  7. Remove the media container, seperating the blue bonded padding from the container (placing it into the sink) and dump the media into the bucket of tank water.
  8. Swirl the media around, rubbing it against each other, to dislodge gunk that has built up.
  9. Rinse the blue bonded padding in the sink (I use the dish sprayer attachment), being sure to turn it inside out to get both sides.
  10. Remove the plastic tube that mounts on top of the impeller, and the impeller, from the filter housing. Rinse both, using a toothbrush to clean the slime from the surface. Also rinse the rubber gaskets.
  11. Using a q-tip, filter brush, or toothbrush, clean the impeller housing.
  12. Place the impeller back into the housing, then the plastic tubing (note, look at the hole sizes in the base of the plastic tubing, lining up the different sized holes with the associated “pegs” in the bottom of the filter casing.
  13. Remove the biomedia from the bucket, placing it back into the media container
  14. Slide the blue bonded padding back around the media container, placing the media container back into the filter
  15. Fill the filter with dechlorinate water then place the lid back onto the filter, securing it with the latches
  16. With both disconnect valves open, pour dechlorinated water through one of the filter tubes until water runs out of the other tube
  17. Close both disconnect valves
  18. Carry the fitler back to the tank, place it back onto the motor housing, reconnect the tubeing, opening both shutoff valves
  19. Turn the filter back on

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